Sir Chris Hoy has won the fifth Olympic gold medal of his career with victory in the men’s team sprint with Jason Kenny and the superb Philip Hindes.
The trio set a new world record of 42.600 to vanquish their French rivals, with 19-year-old Hindes, riding at man one, recording a time of 17.274 for his opening stint.
The victory made up for the disappointment of a controversial relegation of Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish, whose performance on the track had booked them a place in the final of the women’s team sprint.
Great Britain’s world champion men’s team pursuit squad eased through the time trial qualifying round by setting a new world record.
Men’s team sprint
A Great Britain vs. France final was set up in emphatic style by the home nation, who registered an Olympic record in the qualifying round and a world record in the semi-final.
The team staged a superb recovery to qualify fastest, and with an Olympic record, after a crash in the opening metres of the fifth and final qualifying heat against Germany. The re-run was a close affair until Hoy at ‘man three’ gave an early display of the form in which he has arrived at these Games.
In the semi-final, Hindes set up his illustrious colleagues perfectly by recording a personal best over the opening 250km, some 0.2 seconds faster than his previous fastest. Kenny and Hoy responded, with the Scotsman, riding at ‘man three’ delivering a blistering final lap to lower the world record to 42.747.
Anticipation for the final was increased by a delay to the medal presentation in the women’s team sprint.
But the delay, thought to favour the French after long preparation by Great Britain to recover quickly between rounds, proved to no avail to a squad led by world champion, Gregory Bauge, whose ‘man one’ effort was bested by Hindes.
Germany, in the shape of Rene Enders, Robert Forstemann, and Maxmilian Levy won the B-final with a time of 43.209, beating an Australian line up of Shane Perkins, Scott Sutherland, and Matthew Glaetzer.
Women’s team sprint
Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish were relegated from their semi-final and missed the final their time would have entitled them to contest.
Pendleton was ruled to have ‘overlapped’ Varnish after a long conversation between British Cycling’s performance director, Dave Brailsford, and the comissaires.
The final was contested between the Chinese pairing of Jinjie Gong and Shuang Guo, who twice set a world record on their way to the final, and the German duo of Kristin Vogel and Miriam Welte.
China qualified with their world record time of 32.422, and started as favourites against the world champions, who were promoted to the final from third.
But in a repeat of the ruling that relegated Great Britain, who set a world record in their heat, China enjoyed a short lived celebration after beating Germany on the track.
Shuang Guo delivered a superb final lap to secure the gold medal for China in a time of 32.619, but was later ruled to have ‘overlapped’ her team mate Gong.
The bronze medal went to the Australian pairing of Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch, who beat the Ukraine duo of Lybov Shulikya and Olena Tsyos, who had lost to Great Britain before the relegation of Varnish and Pendleton.
Men’s team pursuit qualifying
Great Britain’s men’s team pursuit squad qualified for the heats by setting a new record of 3.52.499.
Steven Burke, Ed Clancy, Pete Kennaugh, and Geraint Thomas delivered an imperious performance to shave eight-tenths of a second from the world record they set to win the world championships in Australia in April.
Ed Clancy led out the team with cool efficiency and blistering pace before he and Geraint Thomas each took massive turns on the front.
Steven Burke and Pete Kennaugh delivered a strong contribution to the new world record and may now hold their places ahead of Andy Tennant in future rounds before the final tomorrow (Friday August 3).
Russia followed Great Britain on to the track, and posted a time of 3.59.264 to qualify fifth, but the mind of the crowd, and of the Great Britain team’s management, was on the final team to qualify, Australia.
Jack Bobridge, Glenn O’Shea, Rohan Denis, and Michael Hepburn had been strongly tipped as the main rivals to Great Britain for the gold medal, but endured a difficult start to their campaign.
O’Shea, the world omnium champion, dropped out with over 1km to go, leaving his three team mates to set a time of 3.55.694, good enough for second, but over three seconds slower than Great Britain.
The New Zealand squad of Sam Bewley, Westley Gough, Marc Ryan, and Jesse Sergent, was the first of the medal contenders on the track. Sergent, who rides on the road for RadioShack-Nissan-Trek, was the team’s greatest contributor to a time of 3.57.607 and third place, more than five seconds slower than Great Britain.
Belgium and Korea were eliminated. Denmark, Russia, Spain, Columbia, and the Netherlands will progress alongside Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand to the first of the heats, which start at 4.18pm tomorrow.